Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rick Spielman

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Illustration by Matt Engstrom

Rick Spielman is a popular man in Minnesota of late. At the very least, with Mike Zimmer as his running mate, he could probably produce some approval ratings that will give any politician a run for their money.

Spielman has done wonders to this Vikings roster in recent years and is quickly earning reputations as a wise spender, talented evaluator of rookie talent, and tricky trader. One thing he doesn’t ever seem to produce, however, are compensatory draft picks, and that could very well be by design.

The formula that allocates compensatory picks is getting less and less secretive as time goes on, but for the next year Vikings fans can ignore the nuances and stick to the simple arithmetic to determine that this team will not recieve any in 2017.

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Since Luke Inman is in Bangkok (for real, not a euphemism), we called in reliever Austin Belisle (@austincbelisle) of Vikings Territory to give us a few innings of hot Vikings Mock Draft talk. Austin links the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings with a very familiar name at the top, but some fresh blood in the latter rounds including TWO cornerbacks. So tune in as we run through his 7-round Vikings mock and check out his full first rounder on VT.

All that and other “Will Fuller is Not Troy Williamson, Dammit” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast.

An Andy Carlson Joint

Gambling on Jaylon Smith
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The War Room is a lot like the Roulette table at a casino. Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has all of the power to place his chips where he pleases, but he’s not guaranteed to hit on any of those black and red numbers. If chips are draft picks and the table numbers are prospects, then Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith is the riskiest bet Spielman can make in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Widely considered the draft’s safest prospect during the 2015 college football season, Smith was a near-lock to come off the board within the first five picks of the first round. But a terrifying knee injury ended both his junior season and collegiate career with the Fighting Irish. Smith disappeared from the national spotlight to rehabilitate his knee, making a brief appearance on social media before this year’s Scouting Combine.

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Vikings LB Emmanuel Lamur
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer covets versatility, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Sure, the Vikings have swiss army knives like Rhett Ellison and Jerick McKinnon, but it’s on defense where that malleability really shines.

There’s Anthony Barr, former UCLA defensive end, who entered the league two years ago and quickly became one of the NFL’s best outside linebackers. There’s Danielle Hunter, a raw prospect out of LSU who transformed himself into a forceful edge rusher last season. Oh, and don’t forget about Harrison Smith, a hybrid strong/free safety who truly does it all for Zimmer’s defense.

Players at every level can switch positions, move inside or out,  and even stand up or put a hand in the ground; the possibilities are endless in a Zimmer system. Think back to Sharrif Floyd sliding to nose tackle last season, or Brian Robison moving inside on third-and-long situations. Zimmer’s players are expected to adapt to the changing landscape of the NFL, where teams are throwing the football more than ever and consistently lining up with three to five receivers.

With such a desire for scheme flexibility, the signing of former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Emmanuel Lamur in free agency makes perfect sense. Though Lamur’s started just 15 games since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012, he has the varied experience and athleticism that Zimmer loves. When training camp begins in July, he’ll have a chance to start opposite Barr as the Vikings’ weak side linebacker, potentially adding another dimension to Minnesota’s already excellent unit.

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Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings are guilty… Of having a great offseason so far in free agency as well as retaining their own core guys. With the draft rapidly approaching, Rick Spielman has to decide if he wants to give quarterback Teddy Bridgewater some offensive firepower with a top-tier wide receiver or continue to build on Mike Zimmer’s “Dream Team” Defense. Harrison Smith is F. Lee Bailey.

Friday Free-For-All Talkers Include
• Greg Jennings Wants to Comeback
• Vikings Interested in German Wide Receiver Moritz Böhringer
• 30 Visit Week Rumors
• Caledonia named Minnesota Football Program of the Year by the Vikings
• Teddy and the Offense Working Out Together
• Vikings Preseason Schedule Released

All that and other “Rushford-Peterson >>> Caledonia” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast.

An Andy Carlson Joint

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